The last chance to save the season or an unnecessary distraction; the January transfer window draws near and after a disappointing season so far, Arsenal fans remain hopeful Wenger will find one or two gems.
The season so far
The Gunners lost two of last season’s key players in Flamini and Hleb not to mention a winner with the Invincibles, Gilberto Silva. If Arsenal had kept the two and built a team around last seasons nearly men, the club surely would have been favourites. Big name transfers came in the form of Nasri and Silvestre but before the season started a defensive midfielder and defender was identified as new requirements. A team of high potential underlined in the Carling Cup, have stuttered in the league with five defeats while not playing the football at a consistent level that they are synonymous with. Injuries has reared its ugly head again and with captain Fabregas out for most of the season a couple of midfielders are on Wenger’s wish list.
Speaking to French television channel Canal Plus, Wenger said:
“We already have many young players so, if we buy, it will be somebody who is ready to play straight away. A loan deal could also be a possibility.
“Cesc is a long way from playing again, so are Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott, and these are three creative players that we count on at the start of the season. So what we might need is someone who can create a little spark.”
“I don’t need to announce a name, because when you do that there is 50 per cent less chance of making the signing. But I need a creative midfielder and eventually another midfielder, because we are short.”
Analysis of the squad and what is needed
With Manuel Almunia and Lucasz Fabianski as back up, the goalkeeping position need not strengthening in the short term at least. Shot stopping is a must for a top level keeper but are more likely to be tested on their command around the area, rushing out and anticipation due to the teams dominance in matches. Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczesny will look to push on from the reserves, while Irish youngster McDermott is set to move to Arsenal.
Recommendations: Shay Given has been linked but is mere paper talk. Strengthening is not needed.
With two top full backs in Clichy and Sagna and able back ups the full back position looks strong. It is at centre back where there may need reinforcing. The Gunners have looked susceptible from the long ball as was the main problem last season. Arsene Wenger wanted Cristian Zapata in the summer and was out priced, bringing in Silvestre. The breakthrough of Johan Djourou has answered some of this problem but is still improving and has been picked up a few niggling injuries so far in his career. Toure and Silvestre look slightly out of their depth while Gallas has reads the game well but aerially weak.
Recommendations: A central defender is not currently on Wenger’s wish list though it will need enforcing in the summer unless Senderos can recover his confidence again. Matthew Upson, Brede Hangeland, Philippe Mexes, Giorgio Chiellini, Steven Mouyokolo have all been linked but clubs will be reluctant to sell. Price is another factor and selling the best Italian defender in Chiellini is highly unlikely even in the coming years.
Had it not been for injuries Arsenal could have been in a better position but the partner to Fabregas is still on the weak side. Denilson is improving but needs to turn solid performances into very good performances, Song shielding decently coinciding with a better balance with Fabregas than Denilson while Diaby’s future position more uncertain. Against Pompey it seems Wenger wasn’t happy about his creativity therefore as a secondary central midfielder may be his role or behind the forwards. A new signing could spell the end for some midfield youngsters. A winger is the main priority and maybe even one in the mold of Hleb or Ljungberg.
Recommendations: Arshavin is linked though his price tag may be a bit steep, N’zogbia is another and although he is a natural winger, is not the biggest step up in class. Ever Banega (on loan at Atletico Madrid), Hernanes, Darijo Srna (cup tied however), David Silva (considering the financial situation at Valencia), Senijad Ibricic (strong winger) could be cheaper and quality alternatives. Alonso and Toure are very unlikely to sign while Miguel Veloso, Blase Matuidi and Gokhan Inler are all regular column grabbers and one or the other may be subject to a bid. If you want to dream Yuri Zhirkhov of CSKA Moscow would be a fantastic signing but would cost millions as the club are steeped with cash.
Arguably the strongest part of the squad and with Eduardo coming back getting even better. There is still a feeling however that there could be more from Van Persie and Adebayor while Vela and Bendtner can only get better.
Recommendations: This area doesn’t need reinforcing and there are players to come from the reserves and youth level. Barazite, Simpson, Afobe and likely signing Wellington ensuring there is a bright future. If any strikers were to be looked, at youngster Danijel Aleksić and Edin Dzeko are future stars while David Suazo of Inter Milan is of proven material.
Final Verdict: The papers are likely to make up many transfer rumours so don’t believ 90% of them as they look to put two and two together to try and make four. Arsene Wenger has already confirmed that midfielders are the most likely positions that need strengthening, with a wide man and possibly another central midfielder.It seems a defender is not being targeted as keeping possession, deny pressure on the defence has been lacking therefore someone to fit the bill would offset some of this threat from high balls.
The board will back the boss but whether the he will take due to the uncertain financial surrounding and the position of the club. This extra cash will likely come from an overdraft but Wenger would be foolish to put the club in further debt. The player will be of quality and relative experience, possibly from the Premiership as he would have to play straight away. Such would be hard to find and it will be up to Arsene and his scouts to unearth another gem with France, Germany and Eastern Europe where there may be possible recruits.